Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump called on Ohio Governor John Kasich to drop out of the presidential race, claiming the long shot candidate is taking away potential Trump voters. Trump also refused to rule out a third-party run if he does not nab the GOP nomination in July.
"All he's [Kasich] doing is just, he goes from place to place, and loses, and he keeps running," Trump told reporters on 3 April. "Well, why doesn't Marco Rubio do that? Why doesn't Jeb Bush do that? Why didn't all of them do that? Now if he wants to go and have his name put in nomination in the convention, he can do that. He doesn't have to run and take my votes."
Shedding light on the comments, Trump continued: "He's taking my votes. He's not taking Cruz's votes. He's taking my votes."
In a separate interview on Fox News Sunday, Trump spoke about the possibility of running as an independent if he does not win the party's nomination. "I want to run as a Republican. I will beat Hillary Clinton," he said. Despite his claims, poll after poll shows Clinton can readily beat Trump in the general election.
When asked if he would rule out a third-party run, the bombastic real estate mogul said: "I'm gonna have to see how I was treated. It's very simple." The Los Angeles Times noted that if Trump were to launch an independent run, it could prove disastrous for the GOP.
Trump's next primary hurdle will come on 5 April when candidates vie for voter support in Wisconsin. Despite a string of controversies and continued low polling numbers in the state, the billionaire candidate insisted he could beat rival Ted Cruz.
"Despite all of these negative ads, and you know the negative media, because the media, look, the media would like to see establishment get in for whatever reason," Trump said. "The media would like to see establishment. Despite all of that, I'm just about leading in Wisconsin. I think we could have a very good turnout."
The GOP frontrunner also said he discussed Kasich's presidential bid with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus when they met in Washington DC last week. Kasich, who trails in third place in delegate count, cannot mathematically win the necessary delegates for the nomination. The Post noted that the Ohio governor, who is the only candidate who consistently polls better than Clinton and Sanders in a general election scenario, could only win the nomination if he's chosen as a consensus candidate in a contested convention.
By staying in the race, Trump contended Kasich is taking votes from him. "It's very unfair he's taking our votes. Anybody could have stayed in. You could have had [Jim] Gilmore stay in. I mean, to be honest with you, Gilmore could have just stayed in," Trump said. "A guy like [George] Pataki could have just stayed in, he had zero. So it's very unfair that Kasich stays in, is my opinion."
In response, Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf said the comments prove Trump cannot secure the necessary delegates for the nomination. "It also shows that Trump knows that his toughest competition after Wisconsin is John Kasich," Schrimpf said.